Great Bear Rainforest - Day Two

Posted on 10th October, 2023

We woke early and went up on deck to enjoy a dawn chorus of jumping salmon, curious seals and various birds - it was wonderful just standing there, looking and listening. With a busy schedule for the day, we made our way further north, surrounded on all sides by layers and layers of amazing woodland.

The air was still hazy from smoke and the colours as surreal as the previous evening. I was glad I'd bought a 1.4x converter for the trip, not just for the wildlife but also the landscape, as I found I often wanted the full reach of 280mm (on my 70-200mm lens) to isolate little rectangles of this vast wilderness.

As the sun rose higher in the sky, rays of light began to illuminate the layers of wooded hills and mountains - forest wherever you looked, although in the bottom right corner, you can just see the rocky shoreline so typical of the area.

We were entering an area knows as Fjordland Conservancy and passed by an impressive waterfall as we made our way into the spectacular Kynoch Inlet. The sun was now high in the sky and the combination of harsh light and haze made it very hard to capture the majestic granite rock faces and wooded ravines.

Whilst a part of me was wishing for 'perfect' landscape photography conditions, I also knew how lucky we were to be enjoying some beautiful weather, when it could equally have been absolutely peeing down and with zero visibility!

As we reached the end of Kynoch Inlet, there were yet more spectacular views towards snow-capped mountains above Culpepper Lagoon. We anchored at the end of the inlet and it was time for our first outing on the zodiacs.

We could now explore some of the shallower waters and had fun watching the many salmon and massive crabs just below us. The backlit woodland was gorgeous and incredibly vibrant, as well as being home to a number of bald eagles. Next we made our way towards the narrow gap into Culpepper Lagoon - in effect an extension of Kynoch Inlet.

The scale of the place was just mind boggling and I'm glad I did opt to capture a few wider views as well as homing in to all the wonderful shapes and textures of the layered landscapes within.

A turn of speed was required to get us to the other end of the lagoon, motoring past yet more amazing scenery and an abundance of Merganzers and Bonaparte gulls. I didn't really have the reach to photograph them but some geese overhead proved a more reachable target.

At the far end of the lagoon, we explored a little way up a creek, with the vibrant backlit trees again catching my eye. Those that follow my photography will probably know I can't resist a 'nice bit of scruff'! And, as with everything else here, scruff was on a different scale to what I'm used to back home. Generally I would opt for somewhat dreich weather for photographing scenes such as these but the incredible dynamic range of the Sony sensor helped me to capture the extremes of the vibrant shoreline, complete with scruff!

Back to the boat and no sooner on board than we spotted our first grizzly bear on the distant shoreline - amazing to watch it for a while through the binoculars, and amazing how quickly such a large animal can just disappear into the grass! We then travelled back up to the mouth of Kynoch Inlet, where the high sun suddenly came into its own, shafts of light reaching down the sides of an impossibly steep and crenellated ravine.

We ventured still further north up Mathieson Channel, before heading to our final destination for the day - Mussel Inlet. The views back the way as we entered the inlet were breathtaking - just for a change!

Once anchored, it was time for another outing on the zodiacs, in search of grizzly bears amongst other things. We did spot a couple of bears foraging crab apples - wonderful to see - and we also had another first encounter - a rather less pleasant one - black flies! They were to torment us a few times that week and about the best thing I can say about them is they are not quite as bad as our midgies...

There were loads of bald eagles about, as ever - wonderful birds to watch and beautiful markings on the fully mature adults. I was impressed at the tracking ability of my camera against such a busy backdrop, although I still found myself reluctant to make the most of its ability to fire off zillions of images per second - it is so alien to the way I normally work.

More aesthetically pleasing, to my eyes at least, were the eagles perched in amongst the woodland, and this one was rather handily situated, albeit in quite a dark, shady spot. The light was getting better and better though, revealing the wonderful colours and distinctive striations of the nearby cliff face, reflected in the calm water below.

There was one other little side channel for us to explore and, with the sun now low in the sky, the view back up to the mouth of the inlet was perfectly backlit.

The gulls were also enjoying the calm and serene evening light and the haze definitely lended a helping, softening hand...

Although we didn't spot any new wildlife, the final little explore on the zodiac revealed yet more beautiful woodland in the fading light.

Another superb day was coming to an end and we had another little detour to photograph our boat in its idyllic surroundings before heading back for drinks and supper - and both were, as ever, superb!

It may seem a little unintuitive, but please click on the PREV link/button below for day 3!